Raoultella planticola

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Raoultella planticola
Raoultella planticola on Citrate agar.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Gammaproteobacteria
Order: Enterobacteriales
Family: Enterobacteriaceae
Genus: Raoultella
Species: R. planticola
Binomial name
Raoultella planticola
Bagley et al. 1982[1]

Klebsiella planticola,[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Klebsiella trevisanii[9]

Raoultella planticola is a Gram-negative[10] bacterium of the genus Raoultella.[5][11][12][13][14][15][16] R. planticola is quite similar in appearance to Klebsiella pneumoniae and must be identified based on growth habits or DNA analysis. A number of strains have been identified.[17][18] R. planticola has been determined to have complicated at least one case of severe pancreatitis.[19]


A strain of Raoultella planticola, Cd-1 has been found which grows anaerobically at high aqueous cadmium concentrations and precipitates insoluble cadmium sulfide. This strain has been isolated from reducing salt marsh sediments and may be useful in bioremediation of cadmium from exposed soils.[20]

Taxonomic reclassification[edit]

Raoultella planticola was formerly classified as part of the genus Klebsiella. It was reclassified along with several other Klebsiella species in 2001.[21]

Genetic modification[edit]

In the late 1980's R. planticola was genetically modified by inserting a plasmid from Zymomonas mobilis. This plasmid codes for the enzyme pyruvate decarboxylase which, along with alcohol dehydrogenase already present in the bacteria allow it to produce ethanol. The bacteria already does produce ethanol when metabolizing hexoses and pentoses, but very inefficiently. R. planticola was chosen to receive this gene as it already had metabolic pathways to breakdown pentose sugars such as xylose, which is a main component of agricultural and forest residues.[22][23] The results showed that the genetically modified strain could produce ethanol but were killed at concentrations of ethanol greater than 5%. The modified strain also produced more ethanol at lower pH (5.4) and ethanol production decreased as pH increased.[22]

In the early 1990s a biotech company set out to solve a problem: how to destroy crop residue safely. Some crops' residues harbor plant pathogens. Burning is occasionally used to destroy the residue and pathogens, but this is a fire hazard and can be dangerous for the environment. This company realized that, because R. planticola is an aggressive and abundant soil bacterium, it could be genetically modified to destroy crop residue and also create ethanol.

Testing of this process, however, was limited to sterile soil. Ph.D. research conducted at Oregon State University, supervised by Elaine Ingham, obtained a sample of the genetically modified organism for assessing ecological effects through the German Institut für Biotechnologie and, testing it in non-sterile (ordinary) soil, found that the modified bacteria caused mass plant death from the ethanol production.[24][25][26] R. planticola is ubiquitous, found growing in the root systems of all kinds of plants everywhere.[25] Therefore, some[who?] have speculated that without the independent test, the genetically modified bacteria might have been introduced in nature and then could have spread to contaminate the biosphere where it would cause worldwide plant death.[27][25]

In the episode "The Pyramid at the End of the World" of the BBC television show Doctor Who, the Doctor stops a genetically modified strain of R. Planticola from causing a worldwide plant and animal die-off similar to the scenario that some scientists have speculated about.

Fallacy of GMO claims[edit]

Public testimony of Ingham and others claims of "worldwide plant death" attracted attention from the scientific community. They were unable to find any evidence that Dr Ingham had submitted her assertions about threats to terrestrial plant life to scientific publication in a peer-reviewed journal, and no evidence was found to indicate the U.S. EPA or U.S. Dept. of Agriculture had reviewed or approved any trials for SDF20. Additionally, the SDF20 was found to have produce 20 micrograms per milliliter of alcohol in the soil which is several hundred times lower than that required to affect plant growth. [28]

Elaine Ingham has issued a public apology for submitting false claims about ecological impact of GMOs. [29]

The Green Party[which?] has issued a public apology for misleading statements and acknowledging that a cited research was never published. [30]


  1. ^ Namebank Record Detail. Ubio.org (2003-04-28). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  2. ^ Namebank Record Detail. Ubio.org (2005-09-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  3. ^ Taxonomy browser (Raoultella planticola). Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  4. ^ Klebsiella cf. planticola B43 - Encyclopedia of Life. EOL (2011-09-28). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  5. ^ a b "2010 Annual Checklist :: Species details". Catalogue of Life. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  6. ^ Namebank Record Detail. Ubio.org (2003-04-28). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  7. ^ Data Use Agreement - GBIF Portal. Data.gbif.org (2007-02-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  8. ^ Data Use Agreement - GBIF Portal. Data.gbif.org (2007-02-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  9. ^ Raoultella planticola. Thelabrat.com. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  10. ^ Bagley, Susan T.; Seidler, Ramon J.; Brenner, Don J. (March 1981). "Klebsiella planticola sp. nov.: A new species of enterobacteriaceae found primarily in nonclinical environments". Current Microbiology. 6 (2): 105–109. doi:10.1007/BF01569013. 
  11. ^ Raoultella planticola. Zipcodezoo.com (2009-04-06). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  12. ^ Data Use Agreement - GBIF Portal. Data.gbif.org (2007-02-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  13. ^ Data Use Agreement - GBIF Portal. Data.gbif.org (2007-02-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  14. ^ Namebank Record Detail. Ubio.org (2005-09-22). Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  15. ^ NLBIF : Raoultella planticola (Bagley et al. 1982) Drancourt et al. 2001. Nlbif.nl. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  16. ^ Raoultella planticola - Encyclopedia of Life. EOL. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  17. ^ Raoultella planticola (Klebsiella planticola). Uniprot.org. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  18. ^ Raoultella planticola Taxon Passport. StrainInfo. Retrieved on 2011-10-21.
  19. ^ Alves MS, Riley LW, Moreira BM (May 2007). "A case of severe pancreatitis complicated by Raoultella planticola infection". J. Med. Microbiol. 56 (Pt 5): 696–8. doi:10.1099/jmm.0.46889-0. PMID 17446297. 
  20. ^ Sharma, P. K.; Balkwill, D. L.; Frenkel, A.; Vairavamurthy, M. A. (1 July 2000). "A New Klebsiella planticola Strain (Cd-1) Grows Anaerobically at High Cadmium Concentrations and Precipitates Cadmium Sulfide". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 66 (7): 3083–3087. doi:10.1128/AEM.66.7.3083-3087.2000. 
  21. ^ Drancourt, M; Bollet, C; Carta, A; Rousselier, P (2001). "Phylogenetic analyses of Klebsiella species delineate Klebsiella And raoultella gen. nov., with description of Raoultella ornithinolytica comb. Nov., Raoultella terrigena comb. Nov. And Raoultella planticola comb. Nov". International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. 51 (Pt 3): 925–32. doi:10.1099/00207713-51-3-925. PMID 11411716. 
  22. ^ a b Tolan, JS; Finn, RK (September 1987). "Fermentation of d-Xylose to Ethanol by Genetically Modified Klebsiella planticola". Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 53 (9): 2039–44. PMID 16347427. 
  23. ^ Feldmann, Sigrun; Sprenger, Georg A.; Sahm, Hermann (August 1989). "Ethanol production from xylose with a pyruvate-formate-lyase mutant of Klebsiella planticola carrying a pyruvate-decarboxylase gene from Zymomonas mobilis". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. 31 (2): 152–157. doi:10.1007/BF00262454. 
  24. ^ Holmes, Michael T (1995). Ecological assessment after the addition of genetically engineered Klebsiella planticola SDF20 into soil (Ph.D.). Oregon State University. 
  25. ^ a b c Elaine Ingham (Winter 1999). "Good Intentions and Engineering Organisms that Kill Wheat". Synthesis/Regeneration. No. 18. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  26. ^ Holmes, M. T.; Ingham, E. R.; Doyle, J. D.; Hendricks, C. W. (1999-01-03). "Effects of Klebsiella planticola SDF20 on soil biota and wheat growth in sandy soil". Applied Soil Ecology. 11 (1): 67–78. doi:10.1016/S0929-1393(98)00129-2. 
  27. ^ "Klebsiella planticola—The Gene-Altered Monster That Almost Got Away". San Francisco State University. Retrieved 2015-11-24. 
  28. ^ Porterfield, Andrew. "Did you hear about the GMO that almost destroyed all life?". geneticliteracyproject.org. Genetic Literacy Project. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  29. ^ Fletcher, Liz. "New Zealand GMO debacle undermines green lobby". Nature.com. Nature. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  30. ^ Aotearoa, Green Party of. "Amendment to evidence presented to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Genetic Modification". gene.ch. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 

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